PAX South 2015 Day 3 Impressions

PAXSouth2015

The final day of PAX South has come to a close and it has definitely been an adventure. I’ve met some great new gaming friends and played a lot of games. Today I want to cover a few more gems that will be a blast to play once they are released later this year. But first, in case you missed them, go back and check out my reports from Day 1 and Day 2.

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First up is a 4-player battle brawler from Too DX called Sportsball. The game is a modified version of Joust and teams can be split across all four players for two versus two or even three against one matches. When a bird lands on an opponent a ball comes into play. The ball must then be hit into a net in the middle of the screen. During team selection players can choose between several classes of birds which have specialties like fast and maneuverable or slow but harder to kill. Gameplay is frantic and fun. The game has several other modes, but only one mode was playable. Sportsball is a fun title that may be enough to get me to buy a Wii U.

The next game I played today was Adventures of Pip from Tic Toc Games. Pip is the eponymous character starring in a 32-bit retro side scrolling platformer, who can evolve and devolve depending on the puzzles presented in the environment. Visually, the game looks as gorgeous as Fez, and the controls are tight and responsive. When Pip is at his smallest, the size of a single red pixel square, he can jump and fit into smaller passageways. At his normal size, he can jump and run. And at his largest pixel count, Pip can push blocks around and smash objects with his sword. The platforming is fun and the demo included some quick paced, tense moments, which I can only assume means the full game will require a nice balance of skill and smarts.

Vlambeer are no strangers to awesome games. Ridiculous Fishing, Super Crate Box, and Luftrausers all come across as simple, yet clearly have depth and an addictive quality that makes their games so great. Currently on Steam Early Access, Nuclear Throne is their next title and it has the same addictive polish that will make it a treat. The goal is simple: kill enemies over several stages in an attempt to get to the boss that is the nuclear throne. (On a side note: the booth for Vlambeer was a last minute happenstance and the team decided to give away their display TVs to any player that could get the most kills in a run. Today a crowd was gathered around to watch an amazing feat of dexterity and skill as a young man made the game look easy while reaching the Nuclear Throne three different times!)

Also of note is a small indie game called Guild of Dungeoneering from Gambrinous and publisher Versus Evil (as announced earlier this week), a turn-based strategy game in which players have five cards dealt to them and from those cards create a dungeon and fill it with treasure and enemies. Each turn has players use three cards from their hand (or discard them), and once the cards have either built out the dungeon or populated rooms with creatures, an adventurer automatically seeks out which path will lead to treasure or danger. As the dungeon becomes more complex, a Threat meter fills up. Once the Threat meter is full, a dungeon boss appears and begins to prowl the completed rooms in search of the hero. Combat occurs when the hero enters a room where an enemy is located, and then there is a sort of rock, paper, scissors card battle in which players can chose to attack, dodge, focus (which allows more cards to be drawn but risks the chance of taking double damage) or use even more specialized attacks, like range mental attacks or double damage slice attacks. Once the dungeon boss is defeated all of the riches earned during the session are distributed to the player’s guild. The guild mechanics weren’t on display at PAX, but talking with the developer, Colm, he explained how loot earned during a play session will unlock additional cards for the guild to allow future dungeon runs to offer even more robust options for rooms, hope (which are treasure modifiers), and monster cards. The game is planned for Steam release and then mobile platforms soon after.

I made one more trip back to the Devolver Digital booth to check out Titan Souls (after Matt piqued my curiosity). The game has a stylized 16-bit retro vibe that reminds me of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, but as what is basically a collection of boss battles the setup is much more similar to Shadow of the Colossus. The game is challenging, but very engaging. I attempted to beat three different bosses during my hands on time, but was only able to defeat one of them. Once a boss’ pattern is learned, the likelihood of taking the boss out in one shot is pretty high. Controls are tight and responsive and I found myself hyped when I would just barely roll out of the way of an attack. I’m a glutton for punishment and can’t wait to play more Titan Souls once it is released.

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One final game that I got to spend some time with was Faded from Pool Police Games. Playing as a boy named Rain, the world is devoid of color. Rain moves through the side scrolling levels seeking out colors to bring life back to the world. Each color also represents a different magic power. As Rain collects more colors, enemies will become resistant to certain types, which forces a strategy of switching between colors in order to defeat them. The game has a very pretty retro art style and the mechanics are solid. The game is early in a Kickstarter bid and hopefully will reach its funding goal so that the game can be released in full later this year (or next).

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.